Aline Althen

Convergence 2015 is wrapping up in San Diego after three days of collaboration, education and motivation. Before we close out this annual mid-year meeting, we want to be sure to highlight those who were recognized at Monday evening’s Volunteer Awards Reception and Dinner.

Six awards were given out to a total of nine individual and groups for their incredible work and leadership over the past year. We congratulate all of the awardees and thank them for their tremendous contributions.

Community Changemaker: Nicole Ferrini
This award is given to an individual whose efforts at the grassroots level are remarkable.

Nicole is a founding member of the USGBC Chihauhuan Desert Chapter. She served as the LEED Project Manager for the City of El Paso’s first LEED-certified building and launched GRO El Paso, a leadership and community event that bridges sustainability and culture and has deepened the engagement of new audiences in her community. Her efforts have focused on building grassroots resilience on a regional scale.

Greenest Apple: Chris Tyler
This award is given to an individual whose contributions to the green schools movement stand out and make them a true leader. 

Chris is a long-serving volunteer from Kentucky. He has worn many hats—as Advocacy Chair, Green Schools Chair, and as the Board Chair for the Kentucky Chapter. He has led the way to ensure that every child is taught in a green school.

Astounding Advocate: Wes Sullens and Renae Hesselink
This award is given to a volunteer who has advanced advocacy for green buildings through policy or government at all levels. This year we were blessed with two extremely deserving awardees.

Wes Sullens is a green building program manager for StopWaste, a program of Alameda County, California, he is a stalwart advocate for green building and LEED.  He has, and continues to serve on the Materials and Resources Technical Advisory Group. As a recognized expert on these issues, he now also serves on the Supply Chain Optimization Working Group and also on the ASHRAE standards committee that—in partnership with USGBC—is designing a green building code that plugs into LEED. In California, he is a tireless advocate for better green building policy in his county and across the state. He has served as vice-chair of USGBC California, which is the advocacy collaboration of the 8 USGBC chapters across the state and advocates on behalf of smart regulatory policy that leverages voluntary programs like LEED.

Our second, and no less worthy, recipient has been one of USGBC’s most vocal advocates in the great state of Michigan. Renae Hesselink is a founding board member of the USGBC West Michigan chapter and has served in numerous roles with the chapter, including board chair. She currently serves as the chapter's Green Schools Advocacy Committee Chair, where she engages with policy makers at the local, state, and federal levels to ensure policies are in place for school districts to green their buildings. She is USGBC’s representative with the Grand Rapids Public School District and recently helped the district see the value in bringing on a Green Schools Fellow.  She has also spearheaded West Michigan’s first of Battle of the Buildings benchmarking challenge and it has proved so successful that the chapter will expand the scope of the competition to whole state of Michigan for the second year.

Rising Star: David “Chi Chi” Truong
This award is given to a volunteer who is a USGBC Student or Emerging Professional bringing energy and innovation to community projects.

Chi Chi Truong has been a volunteer Chair for the USGBC Students program for three years, bringing his creativity and enthusiasm to every aspect of the program. He serves on his chapter’s Board of Directors, is the Emerging Professionals Chapter Chair and has brought his experience to Greenbuild by contributing to and presenting at TalentFX. He has helped design disaster-resilient homes in Haiti and built a green affordable home for Habitat for Humanity. Outside of USGBC, he has founded a philanthropic group that has raised more than $1 million for Children’s Miracle Network and Riley Hospital for Children.

Legendary Leader: Lois Vitt Sale
This award is given to a long-serving USGBC volunteer who has invigorated the community with their ideas and electric energy. 

Lois Vitt Sale has worn all of the volunteer hats—local, regional and global. She has been Chair of the Program Working Group, Co-Chair of not one, but two Greenbuild Host Committees and Chair of her local chapter. She served as a member of the Illinois Climate Change Advisory Council and recently co-chaired the Living Architecture Performance Tool—a new product being designed to measure the performance and quality of living architecture systems. She is a LEED Fellow with a passion for the application of green technologies and sustainable planning to the public and private sectors. She is a public policy advisor and has participated in the development of policies that address the impacts of the build environment on occupant health.

President’s Volunteer Service Award
This is an award from the President of the United States. It is a premier volunteer awards program that encourages citizens lead a life of service. It recognizes, celebrates and inspires community volunteer leaders. 

As a national organization, USGBC's volunteer network is exemplary. The award’s directors acknowledge this, and going forward USGBC will partner with the Corporation for National & Community Service to become a certifying organization for these awards. This year, we honored three volunteer groups who made significant contributions to the green building movement in 2014. 

  • LEED Energy and Atmosphere Technical Advisory Group members, who serve as technical advisors for all things energy-related in the LEED rating systems, collectively donating 470 volunteer hours in the past year.
  • LEED Materials and Resources Technical Advisory Group members, tasked with providing technical advice on the prerequisites, credits, and pilot credits within the purview of the Materials and Resources credit category and collectively donating 450 volunteer hours last year.
  • Chapter Network Evolution Working Groups, which provided thoughtful ideas, gathered feedback from other chapter leaders, and helped conceptualize and articulate the “desired future state” of the USGBC chapter network and collectively donated 860 volunteer hours in 2014.

Congratulations to all of the awardees! You inspire us with your dedication and passion each and every day.